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  1. Keri met me at the airport. I was scattered, confused, but glad to be off the plane. She was the same thoughtful, helpful person as she was online. We drove to Livonia to her home, my new home. It was not what I expected at all.

    In many ways, her house was the opposite of what I was used to. Because of the pervasive heat in Houston, I'm used to central air with ducts in every room, along with ceiling fans in every room that are always on high speed so that there is constant air flow throughout the house. I was used to an upper-middle-class-style living arrangement where everything was clean, fairly new and name-brand. I'm used to the wide living space afforded by houses in Texas (my parent's house is over 3000 square feet).

    This was the opposite of that. Everything was smaller and more cramped and covered in grime. There was no central air or heat, with a wood stove and chimney in the center of the house to provide all of the heat for the winter, which meant hauling wood in every day and keeping it lit. We had the fundamentals as far as food went, but that was it. That first night, and many nights to follow, were hard to adapt to. I slept in her old room that she had as a kid. I was grateful for the heated waterbed for the winter, but the lack of moving air made it hard to sleep.

    One of the biggest struggles was her six cats. I wasn't aware she had so many, and didn't know I had a mild allergy until I moved into her house which was covered in cat hair. I had to live with the asthma-like effects that her cats gave me. They were also very entitled. Any time I made food they would jump up and try to get into it and I would have to knock them off the counter or table or desk. It got old fast.

    I lived with Keri for seven months, where she taught me many things. How to make do with less, how to appreciate what I have, maintaining a regular schedule. She had started her own business in Rochester a few months before (electrolysis, permanent hair removal) and was heavily involved with building a client list. I went into the city with her six days a week. While she worked in her office I would go to the coffee shop nearby, go to Goodwill, go walking through the city. I began writing a lot of poetry, my writer's block breaking as sobriety tenaciously clung to me (or is that the other way around?)
    I began attending poetry readings at the coffee shop once a month and reading my poetry there at the open mic.

    I learned to appreciate her cats even if they annoyed me and made me wheeze. I brought in firewood every day and learned how to keep the stove lit. I enjoyed my first snowfall of my life, then deep snow and ice for months on end after the beauty of fall (I had never seen the colors change in the trees before). I found a doctor, applied and received Medicaid and food stamps. I enrolled in an outpatient program for chemical dependency. I continued to write. In November 2014 I participated in National Novel Writing Month and wrote most of a novel about my psychosis and Meth (except in the novel my psychosis is real and Meth is an extraterrestrial entity trying to take over the world). I wrote about 40 poems in just a couple of months.

    I kept using now and then, though. I met Keri's family, and her uncle would let me smoke some of his weed on the down-low. This happened about once a month. Every six weeks or so I'd not be able to stand sobriety any more and go to the liquor store and buy some whiskey and get hammered. I didn't use any DXM or meth, though, and the events where I did get fucked up were isolated.

    In those seven months and the months to come, an hour never went by of every day where I did not think about meth. I dreamed about it. Sometimes I would get strong euphoria out of the blue while sober that was unmistakably meth-related, which was unnerving. I didn't have any more psychotic events, but I had some really, really weird dreams. Dreams like I had never had before, as if I were being exposed to external tryptamines. Many of them were out-of-body experiences where I felt like my spirit had been summoned to a different world and questioned by people there. Some of the worlds I visited were not inhabited by humans but other entities like gnomes where I was exposed to different experiences and interrogations. For some reason I believed this was because there was something under her house that I had inadvertently opened by my presence, like a gate. I knew it probably wasn't true. I'm not sure why this all happened. Sometimes I wonder if maybe there was mold in her room that made me trip while I slept, but ultimately it doesn't matter. The dreams eventually stopped.

    By April of 2015 I was heavily involved with my outpatient group therapy and had been clean for three months, a new record for me. I had decided that I had done as much as I could from Livonia and living with Keri and that it was time to move into the city. I did not think it would be wise to try to get an apartment and job on my own at that point and so I began the process of trying to get into a halfway house. It scared the shit out of me but I knew it was the right choice. Before that happened I was to have another relapse, precipitated by Keri's mom, of all people, who I thought I could trust.


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